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Learning to let go is the hardest thing I’ve ever done

I had the most wonderful holiday season that I have ever had. Thanks to my guardian angels in this community, you know who you are, and the priceless quality time spent with my two girls, Kaylee and Caroline, my dog Maggie , my two grand dogs, Brody and Dexter, and grand cats Bert, Miles and Maddox my holidays were the brightest, by far, ever. Taking the time and spending that time with family and friends is what life is all about.

Late this past Sunday my girls returned back to their lives – Kaylee as a public defense attorney in Atlanta and Caroline embarking on an exciting adventure in her new home in Brunswick and the Golden Isles.  It was a very sad time for me and I painfully walked around the house putting pieces of their lives safely out of sight because it was too painful at the moment to keep looking at them. I wasn’t a very happy person. My third daughter, Maggie my chihuahua, was confused as much as I was sad and kept running around looking for someone other than me.

Just hours before, and for the past two weeks, our home had been a buzz of activity, but now it was not. It was quite. We, Maggie, my two cats Miles and Maddox, and I,  were alone again in our house, but in our hearts we were not alone at all.

I was very, very, sad, but at the same time I felt extremely blessed for all I have and for all I have been given. My two children are, and have been since the day they were born, two very bright spots in my life. Raising children into adults is one long, joyous and sometimes agonizing adventure, but the absolutely hardest part of parenting, at least for me – the act of letting go.

My girls are wonderful young adults with very bright futures. Yes, they are gone for a while, but they are coming back. With that realization my sad mood began to change for the better.  My faith in God and my faith in the fact that tomorrow will always be a brighter day for me and my girls got me excited and all of the darkness seemed to instantly fade away.

Faith is a powerful thing. We live in a three-dimensional world — we move up/down, forward/backward, and side/to side.  When we add time, our total existence is in four dimensions.  That’s it.  We can’t be anywhere else! It is in these four dimensions that we work and play.  It is in these dimensions that we deal with life and work with their challenges.  We act in response to life’s needs and demands.  We make decisions and we make plans.  We enjoy it and sometimes we are unhappy about it.

Is there more?  YES!  For those of us who believe in a force outside of ourselves, we have faith.  Faith is about trust or confidence in someone or something.  Faith is not only believing that someone can, but that they will.  Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Faith is expecting the sun to rise again tomorrow because it happened yesterday.  Faith is thus the fifth dimension in which all of us can live.

It is with faith that we can overcome fear.  Faith allows us to withstand times of challenge and difficulty.   Faith in a greater future guides us to new heights.  Have you been in the presence of someone with a strong faith?  Those individuals tend to be calmer under pressure, less agitated when confronted, and more composed when challenged by life.  Those entrepreneurs with a strong faith about themselves tend to take greater risks in innovative ideas.  Living can be difficult, yet a person of faith tends to weather the difficulties better — believing tomorrow will be a better day.

It’s a new year and I will focus on living fully in all five dimensions — especially by faith.  That will be my New Year’s resolution.

By the way, I have faith that 2019 – and its new normal – will be an awesome year!

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My two children are, and have been since the day they were born, two very bright spots in my life. Raising children into adults is one long, joyous and sometimes agonizing adventure and I am now experiencing the absolutely hardest part of parenting, at least for me – the act of letting go.

Moments after their departure the feelings of fear, anxiety and panic consumed me, so I researched the issue to see if I could find some magic words of wisdom to help me put things in a brighter perspective.

I learned that parents dealing with separation anxiety as their children go off to college and careers need to let go in phases and stages, advises Levester Johnson, vice president of student affairs at Butler University. A generation ago, people used to advise parents to cut the cord and let the students figure things out for themselves. But over the years, that advice has been moderated and Johnson suggests the following methods to help parents cope:

• Keep the lines of communication open. It’s easy to stay in touch. Just don’t do it in an overly intrusive way. “We’ve all heard about helicopter parents – those parents who hover over their child’s every move,” he said. “I’ve actually heard of a student who would call her mother at dinner time every day and say, ‘These are the options in the cafeteria. What should I eat?’ Part of college is developing the independence it will take to survive in the world.”

• An actual separation is as important as the physical separation. You want to hear how things are going, but you don’t necessarily want to hear everything. Let there be some independence and some privacy, but let your student know they can count on you.

• Maintain the same kind of communication you’ve had. If you talk by e-mail or Facebook or text message, keep it up. You won’t have as much face time, of course, but it’s good to check in.

• If your child has a problem at school, let him or her try to work it out. If there’s a roommate issue, for example, let your child deal with the people on campus who are there to help. Point them in the right direction but don’t make the call. Guide your student and let them experience the satisfaction of problem solving.

Johnson advises parents to avoid visiting campus regularly or encouraging their student to come home frequently.

“They need to be part of campus life and to learn basic life skills – like how to do their own laundry and establish a new group of friends,” he said.

Johnson’s comments were helpful but I am not doing very well in handling the situation. I want them to go and grow, but at the same time, I don’t want them to go and do it without me.

Holding on, guiding, and providing support for my children is a great labor of love; but when the time comes, the greater loving is to let the loved one go.

My home will always be my children’s home. Their stuff will remain in the place where it was left for them to come back to and for me to be constantly surrounded by.

They may now be living separately from me but only because of distance. In my heart they will always be right here at home.

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